The Archbishop of Canterbury announced this month that he was in talks with Pope Francis, Tawadros II, the Coptic pope, and Bartholomew I, head of the Eastern Orthodox Church, over fixing Easter on the second or third Sunday in April each year.
As well as providing a unified date for the churches, this would make it easier for schools and families to plan their terms and holidays.
The proposal has angered Whitby residents and politicians, who see it as a betrayal of a decision taken in the town more than a millennium ago and fear it could affect the tourist trade. In 664, a historic synod was held in Whitby where King Oswiu of Northumbria decided that his subjects would celebrate Easter in line with Roman dates rather than those used by Celtic monks in Iona. The decision is seen as a key moment in British Christianity, linking the English church with Rome.
For more than 1,300 years since the Synod of Whitby, Easter has been celebrated in Britain on the first Sunday after the first ecclesiastical full moon on or after the vernal equinox. That decision could be now be overruled within five to ten years.
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